It’s practically a rite of passage for TV shows with Jewish characters to feature a bar or bat mitzvah plot or subplot at some point during their run. From the very basic to the very over-the-top, the spectrum of American bar and bat mitzvahs has been shown on the small screen for decades. There are plots revolving around bar mitzvah DJs, crashing bar mitzvahs, and the anxiety of bar and bat mitzvah boys and girls.
In no particular order, here are 36 bar and bat mitzvah episode of TV you can watch right now:
1. “Gordo’s Bar Mitzvah,” Lizzie McGuire
Season 1, episode 31
“Gordo’s Bar Mitzvah” is a perfect way to begin this list of bar and bat mitzvah episodes on TV: 21 minutes of a Jewish coming-of-age story. In the season one finale, Lizzie’s BFF Gordo agonizes over the decision to become a bar mitzvah. He tries to figure out how to become a man, and eventually decides to have a bar mitzvah.
“Why this bar mitzvah, and not a tattoo? Or fishing? Or even a dirt bike?” Gordo tells his friends and family gathered to hear him read from the Torah. “The answer is simple: It’s because this is what felt right to me.”
2. “Bat Mitzvah,” Pen15
Season 2, episode 2
“Pen15” is a comedy show set in middle school, created by Maya Erskine, Anna Konkle and Sam Zvibleman, and starring Erskine and Konkle as middle schoolers. It grapples with many coming-of-age moments, including the bat mitzvah.
“‘Bat Mitzvah’ is a perfect episode from a perfect series,” writes Alma’s Molly Tolsky of the “Pen15” bat mitzvah episode. “It touches on both the sanctity and silliness of the rite of passage in which a young Jewish person becomes an ‘adult’ while still clearly in the midst of their adolescence. And it nestles Dippin’ Dots and party dresses right up against storylines that explore faith, trauma and tradition.”
Watch “Bat Mitzvah” on Hulu. And watch an interview between Molly and bat mitzvah girl Sami Rappoport aka Becca here.
3. “I Survived Jessi’s Bat Mitzvah,” Big Mouth
Season 1, episode 9
“I Survived Jessi’s Bat Mitzvah” is a big episode (and prime for Jewish jokes) in the first season of the animated Netflix show about puberty. It’s a perfect send-up of suburban Jewish bat mitzvahs, but also digs deeper at the emotions of the day.
As Jessica MacLeish writes in Alma, “The episode blends specific bat mitzvah occurrences and puberty details, as well as its trademark fantasy elements — like the Hormone Monster Maury’s talking, disembodied penis wearing a tiny yarmulke and feasting on scallops that had earlier attempted to seduce Andrew’s father — to tell its story, and it uses those elements to convey emotional realities of both puberty and a high-pressure event like one’s bat mitzvah (all heightened and escalated by the omnipresent Hormone Monsters).”
4. “Will Scarsdale Like Josh’s Shayna Punim?,” Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
Season 2, episode 10
“Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” was an incredible show that gave us the nuanced Jewish heroine we needed — plus a bevy of plotlines revolving around Jewish identity, including this season two episode when Rebecca (Rachel Bloom) brings Josh (Vincent Rodriguez III) home to Scarsdale for her cousin’s bat mitzvah. It blesses us with Tovah Feldshuh as Rebecca’s mom, Patti LuPone as her rabbi and some incredible Jewish jokes — including an extended moment of Jewish geography.
But this bat mitzvah episode will go down in history because of “Remember That We Suffered,” a song about Jewish trauma that nails Jewish American culture.
5. “Hot Child in the City,” Sex and the City
Season 3, episode 15
Part of the plot of “Hot Child in the City” is that Samantha (Kim Cattrall) is jealous of a 13-year old, super-rich client who seems to have skipped the teen years altogether. Starring 13-year-old Kat Dennings who hires Samantha to do publicity for her bat mitzvah, it’s a ridiculous depiction of “Jewish American Princesses” on TV and a look into over-the-top bat mitzvahs.
6. “Bar Mitzvah,” Dave
Season 2, episode 5
“Dave” is based on the life of Jewish rapper and comedian Dave Burd, aka Lil Dicky, fictionalizing his journey to become a rapper. While the storyline of the “Bar Mitzvah” episode doesn’t have a ton to do with the coming-of-age event, a bar mitzvah serves as a backdrop for tensions between Lil Dicky and his best friend, Elz. When they (spoiler) get kicked out of the bar mitzvah, they reminisce about their days as 13-year-olds getting kicked out of services.
7. “A Tale of Two Bandits,” Brooklyn Nine-Nine
Season 6, episode 5
“Brooklyn Nine-Nine” isn’t a particularly Jewish show, though it has had a few key (and hilarious) Jewish moments and stars Jewish actor Andy Samberg as Detective Jake Peralta. But this episode upped the Jewish ante in a major way, bringing us the best bar mitzvah DJ representation we’ve seen on screen in a long time. Or possibly ever.
“Best gig I ever had,” Doug Judy (Craig Robinson) says of DJ’ing bar mitzvahs. “No one likes hip-hop more than a 13-year-old Jewish boy.”
This wasn’t the show’s only bar mitzvah episode, though; in seasons one and two, there were flashbacks to Jake Peralta’s bar mitzvah, where a girl named Jenny Gildenhorn broke up with Jake.
A worst nightmare! (Watch the flashbacks in season one, episode 22 and season two, episode 17.)
8. “The Bat Mitzvah,” Curb Your Enthusiasm
Season 6, episode 10
Of course Larry David is on this list — with a classic “Curb” episode that was the finale of the sixth season.
Here’s the plot: “Larry David discovers a rumor going around about him, that he sticks gerbils up his butt. He meets a beautiful woman at the doctor and takes her out on a date. He uses the opportunity of Sammy Greene’s bat mitzvah to clear up this rumor. He takes Loretta Black with him, as his friend, but during the bat mitzvah he begins to fall for her. The episode ends showing that Larry has become part of her family.”
Again: absolutely classic “Curb,” with the perfect backdrop of a bat mitzvah.
9. “Mazel Tov, Libby,” The Ghost and Molly McGee
Season 1, episode 6A
“When Molly discovers her best friend didn’t even go close to big on the biggest day of her life, Molly takes charge to throw Libby the best Bat Mitzvah ever.” It’s a sweet, authentic portrayal of the Jewish coming-of-age ceremony — and a bonus that it’s directed at kids.
As Linda Buchwald writes in Kveller, “There are so many little details in this episode that Jewish viewers will be able to recognize. For example, Libby holds a candle lighting ceremony, inviting Molly and family (and, uh, her turtles) one by one to help her light the candles, complete with rhymes. And, like any good party, Libby’s bat mitzvah has a theme — although this one is a first for me: turtles. Libby, as we learn, loves turtles because they can hide their soft, vulnerable bodies in their hard shells.”
Watch “Mazel Tov, Libby” on Disney+.
10. “The Chrismukkah Bar Mitz-Vahkkah,” The O.C.
Season 3, episode 10
The plot: Ryan, Marissa, Seth and Summer try to raise money for Johnny’s knee surgery by throwing Ryan a bar mitzvah as part of Seth’s annual Chrismukkah celebration. So while it’s not a 13-year-old having a bar mitzvah, it’s still a fantastic addition to the annual Chrismukkah “O.C.” episodes.
As Emily Cohen wrote about the Jewishness of the Cohen family in Alma, “the show feels different from most modern well-known and beloved ‘Jewish shows’ and, for that reason, especially relatable and authentic.”
11. “Sister,” New Girl
Season 3, episode 16
The subplot of this season three episode of “New Girl” revolves around our beloved Schmidt and Nick crashing a bar mitzvah, because Schmidt wants to woo his rabbi’s daughter. That’s really all you need to know. There’s hijinks and plenty of Jewish details that make this plot shine.
12. “Today I am a Clown,” The Simpsons
Season 15, episode 6
This 2003 “Simpsons” episode focuses on Krusty the Clown having a bar mitzvah and reuniting with his father, Rabbi Hyman Krustofsky. Here’s the fuller synopsis: “When Krusty admits he never had a Bar Mitzvah, he turns to his father, Rabbi Krustofsky, for help. Later, Krusty realizes his shooting schedule has him working on the Sabbath and proposes to hire a guest host. Not wanting to hire anyone who will upstage him or threaten his career, Krusty hires Homer. On his first show, Homer and his guests Lenny, Moe, and Carl win over the audience by talking about everyday subjects like donuts. Meanwhile, Krusty holds his Bar Mitzvah at the Isotope Stadium and invites Mr. T to read from the Torah.”
13. “Birthday Boy,” The Wonder Years
Season 2, episode 13
Via JTA: “Paul Pfeiffer’s bar mitzvah made Jewish television history when ‘The Wonder Years’ devoted an episode to it in 1989.
“Pfeiffer, played by a Jewish actor named Josh Saviano, was the best friend of the show’s main character, Kevin Arnold, also played by a Jewish actor — Fred Savage — but who was not Jewish on the show. The episode focused on Kevin’s jealousy as Paul’s big day crowds out his own birthday, but for Jewish viewers, the bar mitzvah offered a dose of meaningful representation, including a realistic depiction of a Shabbat service.”
And then, 33 years later, in the reboot…
14. “Brad Mitzvah,” The Wonder Years
Season 1, episode 11
… We get to see the bar mitzvah of Brad, played by Jewish actor Julian Lerner, in 1968 Montgomery, Alabama. As Lior Zaltzman writes in Kveller, “Just like Paul Pfieffer, Brad Hitman is the best friend of the main character of the show, Dean Williams, played by Elisha ‘EJ’ Williams. Yet while the new reboot also takes place in the 1960s, the show, created by Saladin K. Patterson, centers around a group of Black kids at a mostly white high school and explores racism and the civil rights movement. Brad is the only white person in his friend group — and the only Jew.
“’Being Jewish in Montgomery is about being different all of the time,’ Brad tells the crowd at his synagogue. ‘So from now on I’m not going to stand by while people make fun of me and try to make me feel bad, so instead I’m standing up for myself, for my people and for what I believe is right. I may not know what my third name is, but I do know what I am — a proud Jew from Alabama.’
“This change really is going to shape who Brad becomes as a man, as he grows up,” Lerner tells Kveller.
15. “Ron the Man,” Kim Possible
Season 1, episode 20
The plot: “After learning his bar mitzvah certificate was never signed, Ron sets out to prove he is a man with the help of muscle enhancing technology. Dr. Drakken tries to steal an invention that Professor Dementor stole first.”
While we don’t actually get to see Ron’s bar mitzvah (Ron and Kim are in high school), we get to see Ron grapple with what it means to be a man — a very bar mitzvah-y question. It includes Ron crashing a rabbinical conference attended by Rabbi Katz, the rabbi who oversaw his bar mitzvah. “Kim Possible” is just a gem of a show.
16. “Boys II Menorah,” Happy Endings
Season 3, episode 3
“Happy Endings” is an incredible show that not enough people watched (in my humble opinion). A spin on the six friends sitcom set-up, one of the friends is Max, played by Adam Pally, a gay Jewish man who doesn’t fall into any easy stereotypes. Each episode features the friends getting up to different hijinks in Chicago — this episode in season three sees Max becoming a popular emcee on the bar mitzvah circuit, and asks Brad to help him out. When Brad gets more popular than him, he gets jealous, but they end up working together. Just watch the above clip… it’s a freaking delight.
17. Jacob the Bar Mitzvah Boy, Saturday Night Live
Season 36, episode 12
This Gwyneth Paltrow-hosted episode of “Saturday Night Live” is on this list for one reason and one reason only: Jacob the bar mitzvah boy. This 2011 episode was his first appearance on the show as Seth’s “podiatrist’s son.” Jacob the bar mitzvah boy appeared on the show nine times, played by Jewish comedian Vanessa Bayer, and every instance it’s perfect and weird and hilarious.
After she did it the first time, Bayer recalls, “People said such nice things. Lorne really loved it. And when Lorne loves something, it’s kind of rare. Lorne told me that Steven Spielberg had texted him about it. He was like, ‘Steven loves it.’ He showed me the text, it was so cool. And then every time I would do it, Steven Spielberg would text Lorne. I hope I’m not making this up; it seems made up. It is so cool. Then one time at the after party, they were sitting together, with Paul McCartney. And it’s also his favorite character that I do. Paul McCartney has told me. I mean, can you imagine? Only at SNL could you meet those people. I still remember one of the holiday parties I went to Lorne’s table, and he was sitting between them, and they were like, ‘We love that character.’ And you’re like, ‘[grunts].'”
Later, Billy Crystal played his Dad:
All-in-all, just perfect.
Just search “Jacob the Bar Mitzvah Boy” on YouTube, honestly.
18. “Mazel Tina,” Bob’s Burgers
Season 4, episode 13
The plot: Tina isn’t invited to a classmate’s bat mitzvah but ends up at the event anyway when her family is hired to cater. Tina ends up the center of attention, taking the bat mitzvah girl’s place to keep the party moving. Plus, the episode features Jenny Slate as bat mitzvah girl Tammy. What more could you want from a bat mitzvah episode?!
19. “Mistery Date,” Modern Family
Season 4, episode 8
In this episode of “Modern Family,” Alex (Ariel Winter) is participating in an academic decathlon, and her mom Claire (Julie Bowen) takes her to the hotel for the weekend, bringing along Manny (Rico Rodriguez) and Luke (Nolan Gould). In the hotel lobby, Manny meets a girl who he believes could be the love of his life — and decides Luke and him will attend every bar mitzvah throughout the hotel to find her.
Manny: Luke, I need you for this. You’re sneakier than I am. You’re a bigger liar. You have no moral compass.
Luke: Look, thanks for all the compliments, but breaking into one stupid party? That’s not even a challenge.
Manny: Oh, no. Three bar mitzvahs?
Luke: Now it’s interesting.
While it’s a subplot, it’s an extremely fun and silly subplot. Also, one bar mitzvah features a latke station.
20. “Star Mitzvah,” Frasier
Season 10, episode 6
In preparation for his son’s bar mitzvah, Frasier, who is not Jewish, makes a deal with co-worker and “Star Trek” super fan Noel — who promises to teach him Hebrew for a prayer. But, Noel seeks revenge on Frasier for not getting him a signed autograph of Scott Bakula and gives him the blessing in Klingon instead of Hebrew. (Watch above.)
21. “The Bat Mitzvah,” Entourage
Season 2, episode 10
The basic plot: The boys of “Entourage” go to Ari Gold’s (Jeremy Piven) daughter’s bat mitzvah. What more do you need to know!?
22. “Harold’s Bar Mitzvah,” Hey Arnold
Season 1, episode 22B
The kids of “Hey Arnold!” were a staple of the childhoods of anyone who grew up in the ’90s. This season one episode features Harold Berman, who is immature and bit of a bully. He is set to have his bar mitzvah, but is only really interested in the presents — not becoming a man or growing up. He invites his classmates to his bar mitzvah, but the night before, he has a nightmare and decides to run away. Arnold tries to convince him to go to his bar mitzvah, but doesn’t (exactly) succeed.
Yet, Harold ends up becoming a bar mitzvah, and learning a few lessons about growing up along the way. The episode also features him singing the V’ahatva, which is pretty remarkable for a child’s cartoon. A classic “Hey Arnold!” episode.
23. “The Bar Mitzvah,” The Naked Brothers Band
Season 2, episode 6
“The Naked Brothers Band” followed Nat Wolff and Alex Wolff, Jewish brothers who are in a tween rock band (in real-life, they are musician brothers, too). In this episode, “Alex meets his doppelganger at the skate park, Mitchie, a superstar skateboarder. The two decide to switch places to see what life is like on the other side. Problem is…the day they pick to do so is a big skate competition and a Naked Brothers Band performance at Cooper’s Bar Mitzvah. The pressure is on and neither Alex nor Mitchie are sure they can live up to it. Tony Hawk is even in on the action at the skateboarding competition.”
A bar mitzvah plot plus Tony Hawk?? Can this episode be more perfectly 2008?!
24. “Hot Mitzvah,” Younger
Season 1, episode 11 of “Younger”
In this episode of “Younger,” a show about a 40-year-old mother (Sutton Foster) pretending to be 26 to get a job in the publishing industry, one of her new millennial friends, Lauren (Molly Bernard) decides to throw a “Hot Mitzvah” for her 26th birthday party because, as she says, she wasn’t hot when she was 13, but she’s hot now. It’s got plenty of bat mitzvah episode staples, including a gushing speech from the parents, Lauren’s rumination about her Torah portion, and some background klezmer music — but it’s also the only episode on this list that features its characters doing molly.
25. “Buddy Sorrell, Man and Boy,” The Dick Van Dyke Show
Season 5, episode 22
Perhaps the oldest show on this list, in this episode of the Dick Van Dyke show, Rob (Van Dyke) and Sally (Rose Marie) are suspicious of Buddy’s (Morey Amsterdam) weird behavior — he’s leaving early from work and making secret phone calls. They think he’s either seeing a therapist or cheating on Pickles. Turns out? He’s prepping for a bar mitzvah.
Buddy was one of the first overtly Jewish characters on TV in that era — the plot came about because Jewish actor Amsterdam told producer Carl Reiner he grew up too poor to have a bar mitzvah, reportedly saying, “In those days my folks couldn’t afford to be Jewish.”
Fun fact: “In order to lend gravity to the proceedings, a real Jewish cantor was brought in for the episode. He was supposed to sing a brief prayer at the beginning of the bar mitzvah scene, but according to Morey Amsterdam, he became a bit star-struck at what he was doing, and sang uninterrupted for 5 or 10 minutes. When he finally concluded, Amsterdam said that he stepped forward and announced, ‘One more time!’ because the take, as shot, couldn’t be used. The cantor apparently got the message and, for a second take, sang just a brief prayer as he had been supposed to do.”
Watch “Buddy Sorrell, Man and Boy” on Peacock. (Or, shh, on that YouTube above.)
26. “Drake’s Bar Mitzvah,” Saturday Night Live
Season 39, episode 11
Jewish rapper Drake relived his bar mitzvah in the opening monologue of his first “Saturday Night Live” episode. We just really need to put the lyrics of the whole bit here:
I’m Black and Jewish
Don’t be so foolish
I’m Black and Jewish
It’s a Mitzvah
Please don’t forget I’m Black, please don’t forget I’m Jewish
I play ball like Lebron and I know what a W-2 is
Chilling in Boca Raton with my mensch, Lenny Kravitz
The only purple drink we sip is purple Manischewitz
At my show, you won’t simply put your hands in the air
We can also raise a chair or recite a Jewish prayer
Like Baruch Yitadel Yisrael
Ve’et ha Kim Kardashian Kanye West, amen
I eat Hova with nova, knishes with my bitches
A bagel and cream cheesy with my boy, his name is Weezy
Do not go to Feingold’s, though
The pickles are rubber
And I will not be harming ya
I read the Old Testament, okra and matzahball, I’ll eat the rest of it
I celebrate Hanukkah, dated Rihannakah
Birth right in Israel, mama from Canada
Daddy from Africa
Best of worlds when you’re Jewish with Black in ya
SNL history, right there. A few years later, Drake would throw himself a “re-bar mitzvah” for his 31st birthday.
Watch “Drake’s Bar Mitzvah” on YouTube, or the whole episode on Peacock.
27. “Zach Mitzvah,” The Crazy Ones
Season 1, episode 16
“The Crazy Ones” was “a single-camera workplace comedy about a larger-than-life advertising genius whose unorthodox methods and unpredictable behavior would get him fired… if he weren’t the boss.” Starring Robin Williams as Simon, this plot sees Simon offering to throw a client’s son’s bar mitzvah, putting Zach (James Wolk) in charge as a the DJ. The client is played by Cheryl Hines, in an inspired casting decision.
28. “The Wrong Goodbye,” Gossip Girl
Season 4, episode 22
The season finale of the fourth season of “Gossip Girl” features Blair and Chuck crashing a bar mitzvah. This feels important enough to include on our list. You’re welcome.
29. “AKA Harry Nugs,” Desus & Mero
Season 3, episode 38
“Let’s go to a world of anxiety and genital mutilation! Come with me to Judaism!” Obviously, these are not the traditional words initiating most b’nai mitzvah ceremonies. But then again, they were spoken at the beginning of a very non-traditional bar mitzvah.
In this episode of “Desus & Mero,” non-Jewish comedians Desus and Mero, also known as “The Bodega Boys,” sought out Jewish tradition for the purpose of becoming Bodega Men. With the help of “Blewish” comedian Eric André (speaker of the aforementioned anxiety and genital mutilation joke), the boys sit down at The Village Temple in New York City with Rabbi Diana Fersko to learn about this momentous rite of passage. It’s a funny and meaningful engagement with Jewish tradition.
30. “Growing Up Is Hard to Do,” Archie Bunker’s Place
Season 3, episode 8 and episode 9
“Archie Bunker’s Place” was a continuation of “All in the Family,” primarily set at a bar owned by Archie Bunker (Carroll O’Connor) and Jewish partner Murray Klein (Martin Balsam). Later in the series, after Murray remarries and leaves, Archie finds a new business partner, Gary Rabinowitz (Barry Gordon).
This two-part episode focuses on Stephanie’s bat mitzvah. Stephanie (Danielle Brisebois) is the Jewish daughter of Archie’s wife Edith’s step-cousin, and she lives with the Bunkers after her father abandoned her in the final season of “All in the Family.” We see her father reappearing in the days leading up to her bat mitzvah.
31. “American Torah Story,” Raven’s Home
Season 4, episode 16
“Raven’s Home” is the spinoff/reboot of “That’s So Raven,” and this episode follows Levi as he gets ready to become a bar mitzvah. Here’s the plot: “With his bar mitzvah approaching, Levi realizes he didn’t take full advantage of being a kid. Booker encourages Levi to enjoy his childhood to the fullest before becoming a man.” Plus, it’s a virtual bar mitzvah, a very COVID-era plotline, with a non-traditional family. We just love to see it.
32. “Bar Mitzvah Crashers,” The Bernie Mac Show
Season 5, episode 16
After a Jewish family moves into the neighborhood, Bernie (Bernie Mac) urges Jordan (Jeremy Suarez) to become friends with the new kid, David (Kyle Kaplan). Jordan does so grudgingly, but soon finds out he’s pretty cool — and that there’s a ton of giveaways at bar mitzvahs. So, Jordan starts attending bar mitzvahs with David. There’s a meaningful moment at the end at David’s own bar mitzvah with a candle lighting ceremony.
33. “Francine’s Split Decision,” Arthur
Season 7, episode 2A
“With the big bowling tournament and her cousin’s bar mitzvah happening at exactly the same time, Francine tries to figure out a way to be two places at once.” The viewers get to learn all about Francine’s Judaism and it’s a perfect introduction to bar/bat mitzvahs for “Arthur” viewers.
34. “Fuzz Buddies,” Difficult People
Season 3, episode 7
Marilyn (Andrea Martin) decides to throw herself a bat mitzvah, much to her daughter Julie’s (Julie Klausner) dismay. As Marilyn tells Julie, “I’ve always wanted to have a bat mitzvah, and your one nice thing is that you’re gonna plan it for me.” It features Julie and Billy (Billy Eichner) being their hilarious selves, set to the backdrop of a late-in-life bat mitzvah. It’s never too late!
35. “Bat Mitzvah,” The Mindy Project
Season 5, episode 9
The plot: Mindy (Mindy Kaling) panics when her new hot boyfriend Ben (Bryan Greenberg) doesn’t invite her to his daughter’s bat mitzvah. Shenanigans ensue when Mindy decides to crash the bat mitzvah and pretends to be a rabbi. This episode also features Adam Pally as Peter, which is always a delight.
What’s notable about this bat mitzvah is it’s a young Black Jewish girl celebrating her bat mitzvah — representation matters, especially images like this:
A fantastic “Mindy Project” episode.
36. “Jack Gets in the Game,” 30 Rock
Season 2, episode 2
“Werewolf Bar Mitzvah” is the most important Halloween song of our generation. This song began in a “30 Rock” episode that aired on October 11, 2007 as an eight-second bit. For those who haven’t memorized this scene, Angie brings Tracy a box of his things (they were in a fight); he pulls out the key to the city of Gary, Indiana and then his gold record to a novelty party song. Quick flash to the music video for “Werewolf Bar Mitzvah,” from the album “An Evening With Tracy Jordan” (released by Geffen Records).
The song is actually a meaningful lens to view American Jewish identity, and a legitimate bop. The perfect way to end this list of bar and bat mitzvah episodes.